What Is Business Law? What Do Business Lawyers Do?


Business Lawyers


Business law is the area of law that relates to forming, running and dissolving companies. Business large and small need lawyers to help them. A business lawyer helps their client understand the law and use it to their best advantage. A business lawyer also helps their client mitigate the damage if they violate a law or regulation.


Business law may involve any of the following legal matters:


Choosing a business entity

Advising on how to hire, manage and end employee relationships

Drafting and negotiating contracts with materials and services providers

Compliance with federal regulations

Helping a corporation file for bankruptcy

Paying taxes properly

Intellectual property to preserve ownership of new ideas and products

Avoiding antitrust liability


Choosing a Business Entity


A business begins by choosing a corporate structure. A business can be a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, a partnership or a corporation. Each state has their own rules for what types of businesses a person can start and the rules for the business entity. An important part of business law is helping the client determine the most advantageous type of business entity to choose based on their needs and goals. The business lawyer help their client create the business entity correctly. They also help them with any ongoing filing and reporting requirements for the business based on the rules in their state.


Employment Law


Businesses use employees. There are strict federal and state laws about how to being and end employee relationships. There are rules that govern employee payroll, family leave, workers compensation, anti-discrimination and more Even the question of whether a person is a contractor or an employee can be an important question for a business. Business lawyers must help their clients comply with all of these rules and regulations. They also help their clients develop rules for employees that are meant to help employees work in a fair, safe and productive environment.


Drafting and negotiating contracts with materials and services providers


Contracts are essential to helping a business do its work. In a contract, a few words are often all it takes to change the meaning of something completely. Businesses rely on their business lawyers in pour over the details. Business lawyers also work to negotiate terms that are favorable to their clients. Attorneys who practice contract law must be great writers. In addition, they must understand what things are unlawful to put into a contract. They may even work on breach of contract issues and help their clients determine the next step if they or another party is unable to fulfill the terms of a contract.


Compliance with federal regulations


Depending on the type of business, there may be a myriad of federal and state regulations for a business to comply with. Business lawyers help their clients, identify, understand and utilize these regulations. Whether it’s applying for a permit, handling toxic materials or making required reports, businesses rely on their lawyers to help them stay in compliance and stay in business.


Bankruptcy filings


There are times that a business may need to declare bankruptcy or restructure. Business lawyers help their clients consider their options and pursue them. Business law involves helping a business’ leadership understand when they can file for bankruptcy and whether they should file given the totality of the circumstances present. If the business decides to pursue a bankruptcy proceeding, business lawyers help them negotiate the process accurately and in a way that is most advantageous to the company.


Paying taxes properly


Businesses pay taxes. They must correctly take care of payroll taxes and taxes on income. A business may also need to collect and pay sales tax. These businesses rely on business lawyers to help them understand and comply with the myriad of tax laws that impact their operations.


Intellectual property


Many businesses are in the business of developing new products and ideas. They rely on business lawyers to help them keep the legal rights to use and profit from their ideas. Intellectual property law is often a part of business law. Lawyers help their clients secure a patent or take action to prevent copyright violations.


Avoiding antitrust liability


Antitrust laws prevent businesses from taking active steps to prevent competition. Business rely on their lawyers to help them understand what actions might amount to an antitrust violation. If government officials accuse a business of an antitrust violation, business lawyers can help their clients defend against the allegations.


Business Law Can Be Litigation


Business law can spill over into litigation practice. There are times when businesses are involved in lawsuits. They might bring a lawsuit to enforce a contract. They might have to defend a products liability suit or a suit from an unhappy employee.


When a business matter turns into litigation, business law and trial law can merge. A business lawyer might handle litigation themselves, or they might refer the matter to a seasoned trial lawyer that specializes in the type of litigation. Sometimes, a business lawyer handles the dispute to the extent they’re able before there’s formal litigation. When a mid-size or large law firm represents the business, different lawyers in the same firm might handle the case.


Who Practices Business Law?


Whether a business is big or small, they need business organization law. From the day a company goes into business with one employee to the largest corporations in the United States, all businesses need business law. That means businesses use lawyers to meet their needs in a wide variety of settings.


Small firm and solo lawyers


Lawyers who serve small businesses usually work with a small or mid-size law firm. They might also be in solo practice. These lawyers aren’t employees of the companies they help. Instead, they work for the business on a contract basis. They typically bill by the hour. A relationship with the business might be ongoing, and the lawyer might help the business any time they have legal needs.


Mid-size and large law firms


As a company grows, their legal needs might be more than one lawyer can handle. In that case, the business has options when it comes to meeting their legal needs. They can choose to work with a larger law firm. Very large corporations who hire lawyers outside of their corporation might spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on legal fees. A corporation might prefer the flexibility of a contractual arrangement to having the responsibility of having ongoing employees.


In-house counsel


A corporation also has the option to use in-house counsel. The corporation can hire lawyers to be employees of the business. These employees work for the business full-time or part-time depending on the terms of their employment. A company with large, ongoing legal needs might find in-house counsel more efficient than contractual hiring. They might prefer the arrangement because it allows their lawyers to focus solely on their business. It also gives them lawyers who are often right in the building to handle quick questions and legal needs as they arise.


Why Practice Business Law?


Business law can be a stable, ongoing legal practice for many attorneys. Business lawyers often establish long relationships with their clients. A client might need a contract drafted one day, a merger negotiated the next day and advice on an employee benefits matter the next week. A lawyer who specializes in business law can often develop a portfolio of ongoing clients whereas a lawyer in another area of practice might have to wait for the next case to walk in the door.


It’s also a great choice for attorneys who don’t enjoy the courtroom. It’s true that businesses have litigation needs. However, businesses often work with litigation specialists when litigation arises. A business lawyer can often fashion an entire practice without standing to address the judge in a courtroom.


In addition, business lawyers often have the freedom to live where they want to. From big cities to small towns, all businesses have needs. A business lawyer can develop their practice in a location where they want to live. If a lawyer wants to move back to their hometown or take a job in  a new place, there’s a good chance that they can establish a practice there. Like other fields of law, you must be licensed in the state where you practice. However, within that limitation, a determined business lawyer can usually develop their practice in the location of their choice.


Making a business out of business law


Business lawyers proactively help their clients conduct business in a way that’s calculated to avoid problems and maximize profits. They also help their clients react when unexpected things occur. Business lawyers do their work in a variety of practice environments including small and large firms and in-house counsel. They work throughout the United States. Business lawyers make a business out of helping others do business.

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